A December gaming update
December 06, 2019

The one that might be of the four I'm playing is Bonk III: Bonk's Big Adventure. Where I'm happy that I at least devised a theme for the review, as without that, I'd be in trouble. I remember how, in my review of the second Bonk game, EmP noted that it's main failing was that I simply didn't exhibit much enthusiasm and kinda just went through the writing motions. And, so, having another game in the series where the only notable difference is that you get two new power-ups that make you really big or really small. I suppose that's a big part of the reason why Bonk faded into obscurity. Mario games constantly evolved with time. Sonic titles really didn't and lost prominence after the 16-bit era, but the Genesis' speed made those games super-neat with how fast Sonic moved. But with Bonk's three TG-16 games, you basically have three games that all are mostly similar with the third, in particular, being more an expansion to the second than a game all in its own. Not evolving and not having a particularly awesome mechanic carrying the action just relegated the hard-headed caveman to the Hall of Very Good instead of the Hall of Fame.

Witcher III: Wild Hunt: For my PS4 game of choice at the moment, I'm getting closer to the end of the main quest, as I'm doing the "Final Preparations" quest, which seems to be a framing quest for 4 different quests. Did Yennifer's quest and started Triss', so I'll have Ciri's and Avallach's to go. I'm digging this game enough to want to do everything possible. Which is something I'm kind of regretting, as "everything possible" involves doing all the optional "question mark" points of interest. In Velen/Novigrad, this was cool, other than having to avoid virtually all of them in the north/northeast part of the map for forever due to being tied in with the Hearts of Stone expansion and, therefore, being for a L32+ guy. However, Skellige is a real hellhole. As a collection of islands, many of its question marks are on the ocean as "smuggler's caches". So you sail your boat near them and then have to kill a bunch of enemies to collect treasure that likely isn't all that great once you've gotten past L25 or so. I've just started doing about 6 of them for every Skellige side-quest to whittle them down so that when I've finished the side-quests there, I only have a handful left to finish.

One issue with this game that is endemic to any game of this nature that doesn't have some sort of level scaling is that if you're a completionist, you'll wind up over-leveled for roughly everything with a few optional encounters. For the last eternity or so, I think the toughest quest I've had is the High Stakes Gwent tournament in Novigrad because the woman you play in the second round has one hell of a good deck and plays more intelligently than, oh, every other player. Took 4 re-loads to get past her and I'd basically steamrolled about 50 straight opponents in that game. But yeah, I'm L33 doing L28 quests and that's about as close as the disparity has been in a while. Because I do every side quest I get and am trying to fully explore and experience the world to see fun things like the one fort on Skellige that apes first-season Game of Thrones' sky cells.

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin: The weird thing about the 360 SotFS as compared to current-gen versions is that none of the SotFS changes other than the inclusion of Aldia were implemented for older systems. At one area, this got annoying. You know the part of the Shaded Woods where you fight the near-invisible guys in the foggy area? I'd read that a special item you get reasonably early in the DLC you access from Shrine of Winter that allows you to see invisible foes works on them. Apparently only in the current gen versions, though. I fought through tough-as-hell enemies to get that thing and it makes the invisible guys in the DLC visible, but the Shaded Woods guys were still invisible. At least I found out that by hugging the left wall, you can get where you need to get with a minimal amount of fuss. Like only one of those guys will be aggro'd.

Overall, I'm making good progress. Currently 0-1 vs. Velstadt in the Undead Crypt. Key to the rematch will be me being more efficient in preserving the Estus charges on the way to him (might help if I don't hit the damn bell myself while killing the Hollow next to it...damn long-ass Arced Sword...). Used Grave Warden dude as a summon ally there, but because I was down to high-power lifegems, I had to "sit out" a good amount of time while my health recharged slowly, which led to my ally dying and then I got overly-aggressive, had to back off again and found out the hard way that when lower on health, Mr. Tall Knight gets some high-power dark magic. So, beat him and I'll have whatever comes after him for the main game, as well as most of the Winter DLC and basically all of the other two (I did kill one soldier once in the Black Gulch one, so, uh, that's one fewer respawn for him!)

Divinity: Original Sin (Steam): Started this a week or two ago. My computer's not a gaming machine, so it runs a bit slow as I have the minimum specs for it, so my time with this game likely will be a fair bit longer than it would be on a more RAMy computer due to slower movement and animations. But it's still a fun, really involving RPG for micro-managers. Usually things have been working like this for me.

a. Struggle with stuff.
b. Get a level or some good loot and cruise through a couple fights, causing me to think I'm getting the hang of things.
c. Run into a tough fight and go back to "a".

It leads to a situation where my phone's Google search history is littered with Divinity questions like "why am I blowing up on the southwest beach" (because there are mines there and no one had enough perception to see them!) and "how do I get in the closed off part of Esmerelda's basement" (the switch is hidden behind hams that have to be moved!). Right now, I'm in the Black Cove cave to try to clear off some side quests and get more power to help me defeat Raddagoth, the asshole mage who won't let me into Evelyn's secret hideout. Almost had him a couple times, but he would re-summon his sand golem allies and I'd be too depleted to re-kill them. I will say that fights are tough here and you have to pay attention to every move. I've had more that I've had to reload at least once than I have where I won on the first try. And a big part of that is on me. I'm especially bad at blundering a guy through burning ground at bad times.

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